NCE, my very easy DCC system from North Coast Engineering.

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NCE’s web site

 

All of my throttles including the Power Cab have:

 

  • 3rd Generation Radio that provides “Unrivalled Performance” with a range of 100’ plus.
  • Short 2 inch “loaded” antennas that are lowered down in my Procabs for the ultimate in “user friendliness” and with ONLY the RB02 (no Repeaters) on my 30’ x 30’ layout.
  • Rechargeable NiMH batteries.
  • “On board” Charger that charges the rechargeable batteries at 50 mAs, anytime the throttle is plugged into the Cab Bus. A separately powered 12 volt DC Wall Wart, plugged into the Cab Bus as per UTP instructions, could power the “chargers” with the DCC system OFF, for example, over night.
  • Easy “Turn On” of the Procabs. No more holding the ENTER button while pressing the Estop button at 3 o’clock.
  • Auto power off after an adjustable period of throttle inactivity (standard). For day to day running, mine set to “5” for 10 minutes. For an operating session, all set to “0” – on all the time. No display going blank, unless I haven’t charged them.
  • My Procab’s display back light is illuminated at ALL time.

 

Note: All of the modifications were courtesy of Mark Schutzer – Thanks Mark. 

 

Modifications I have made to my Throttles and System – Click on them to select more text.

 

Knob and Potentiometer for the Procab instead of the encoder wheel.

Knob Encoder Procab.

Bob’s Switch for my Cab04PRs for direction control:

Radio Cab04s Time out period setting from 1 – 20 mins or ON all the time:

Cab04Ps Mechanical Stops to save Potentiometers.

On board charging and charger & using NiMH re-chargeable batteries.

Using an ON/OFF switch to TURN ON radio throttles.

Command Station modification to enable reading of Tsunami CVs without a Soundtraxx PTB-100 booster. 

Power Cab – fitting a Radio Upgrade Kit.

A Cradle Charger

 

 

Choosing the System – my reason to buy NCE:

 

When looking for a DCC system, I did what all modellers should do and checked on the Internet, all the known DCC manufacturers. My local hobby shop had System One at first and then NCE.

 

I was already operating with the local Australian designed command control system, Infocom, that I had since 1992, so operating locos independently was nothing new to me. I had Infocom for about 10 years. I always wanted to have sound in my locos, but with the difficulty of putting a sound board into my locos plus a motor receiver that in most cases, to get quieter running, I used the non pulsed versions, I had to glue output ICs, that supplied smooth DC, to some metal for heat sinking. This was not required for pulse models. A local modeller was making his own sound boards that were not too big but was mounting them both in larger locos than I have, he models U.S. The Infocom system was not going to be upgraded with new features and the thought of having radio control was further reason to “bite the bullet” now and consider DCC as my new control system.

 

After visiting a few layouts that had sound and I was so impressed that I wanted sound in my locos, NOW, so the hunt was on to buy DCC. The way you operate your layout will be a determining factor on your choice of DCC system. Buying a DCC system, to quote the moderator Ron on the DCC4Everyone Yahoo Group, “There is no BEST system, just the one that is BEST for you”.

 

I model the NSW prototype that predominately operated single engine trains until they required assistance to go up hills. This necessitated the use of adding a second loco (consisting) or a helper. On the Main North there will be 4 major 1 in 40 grades, operating as the prototype did.

 

I am building my layout with these grades included. The railway going north to Newcastle had to climb the Fassifern Bank, where double headed AD60 Garratts made quite a show, climbing the “bank” from a standing start at Fassifern Station. Crossing the Liverpool Ranges to Werris Creek and Gunnedah, will second 1 in 40 grade from Murrurundi to Ardglen. On the return trip to Sydney, the climb from Willow Tree to Ardglen, necessitated “bankers”. From Newcastle to Sydney, the climb up the Cowan Bank from the picturesque Hawkesbury River to Sydney require double heading (consisting)

 

This section from the Gosford to Sydney was the busiest section of railway in the NSWGR system.

 

At the base of these grades, consists will have to be built up and at the peak, broken up. As I am not running timetables, that maybe something in the future, but a long way off, no preplanning about what locos will be ready to be “consisted” at particular locations, the consist will be built at the actual location, when required.

 

This “out on the layout”, consisting requirement, precluded me from considering systems that had only one location to build consists.

 

Operation on my walk around layout that occupies 2/3rds of my double car garage and a downstairs room would be so much easier with radio control throttles that the operators don’t have to continually plug in, was the next major requirement. I was not a member of a club yet, so all my hands on experience was at the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown in Sydney. I bet Garry thought I was never going to buy a system due I annoyed him so many times over about 5 years through the System One and early NCE days.

 

The throttle is your interface to your trains, so the way it feels and operates to YOU is one of the most important criteria for choosing a DCC system. I suggest when buying a DCC system, you should see if you can operate the systems that are on your “short list”.

 

NCE has a lot of throttle options, depending on your choice of having a screen on the Procab with buttons or wheel (potentiometer or encoder) or throttles with out a screen that have either a knob (either potentiometer or encoder) or buttons. There are 5 throttle types and each can be purchased with radio so that makes 10 throttle options. You must have at least one Procab, to program CVs etc and this is the throttle that comes with the basic package.

 

The NCE is a true walk around system, everything thing that has to be done in running the railway, can be done anywhere, when using a Procab. I call the Procab a radio controlled control panel that some other systems have as their command station at a fixed location.

 

So for me, apart for the normal features of a DCC system, I had to have as Ron says “… the one that’s best for you” and considering my layout and how I intend to operate it, this sets the DCC system requirements. This should be high in the priorities of your DCC system choice. So for me this is what I require, listed below.

 

          Easy and flexible consisting that will enable making and breaking consists anywhere.

          To be able to, Program on the Main anywhere. This allows for easy loco programming anywhere.

          Walk around capability preferably with radio control.

          Easy to understand throttles, with a good feel to them.

          I prefer “knob” throttles so there had to be options. (I have since fitted a knob to my Procab, see my mods)

          4 digit addressing, this ruled out entry level DCC.

          Not to have a central Control Panel.

 

This led me to NCE and with my layout I would prefer to have radio throttles. Once these were available and were approved in Australia, NCE was my choice.

 

Having operated with a couple of DCC systems, I find that there is not that much difference between them all, they operate trains but it’s the extra features, that unless you have given a lot of thought to or operated a few DCC systems, you may not yet realise how important some of these features are.

 

NCE is really all about choices. Like different throttles, you can use the Procab that some people find very daunting or the simpler engineer throttles, programming and consisting anywhere, total flexibility, portable control panel etc. You have choices, if you use it as I do, or any other way, it is your choice. Operating radio on a walk around layout is the only way to go. With a smaller layout, radio may not be worth the extra expense, but for me I would not operate without it.

 

Choose the system that best suits the way you operate, very important.

 

Remember what Ron says “There is no BEST system, just the one that is BEST for you”

 

 

 

For now go to NCE’s web site

 

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